Sunday, December 31, 2023

Year in Gaming 2023

Here we are at the end of 2023. How was it for gaming for me?

Running Dungeon Fantasy

Due to a TPK, this year was pretty odd for me - I actually got to play in a DF Felltower adjacent campaign GMed by one of my regular players, Vic.

So I GMed less sessions overall, but the net amount of DF Felltower-connected play wasn't as low as this seems. 2022 featured only 13 sessions for comparison to me GMing 12 this year - about one every 4 weeks.

Session 178, Brotherhood Complex 2 - Iron Knights
Session 179, Brotherhood Complex 3, Part I
Session 180, Brotherhood Complex 3 - Part II
Session 181, Brotherhood Complex 4, Part I
Session 182, Brotherhood Complex 4, Part II - Demon Grunts & Torturers
Session 183, Brotherhood Complex 5 - Gnolls (Part I)
Session 184, Brotherhood Complex 5 - Gnolls (Part II)
Session 185, Felltower 125 - Return to Felltower
Session 186, Felltower 125 - Return to Felltower Part II - Gnolls & A Level Too Far?
Session 187, Felltower 125 - Fighting the Werewolves
Session 188, Felltower 126 - Werewolf Loot & Crystal Gazing
Session 189, Felltower 127 - Quick Delve

It was great getting back to Felltower.

We added a couple of players, though - Doug and Kevin joined us. We didn't really lose anyone although Galen's player Mike only played in a session or two. Doug and Kevin have been excellent additions and have added a different approach to delving and character generation.

The Forge has been excellent, and Foundry is getting better and better. Still odd sometimes, and still lots of little issues, but overall I feel much more comfortable with it.

Playing RPGs

With our TPK in Session 184, caused by Ye Olde Let's Camp in This Dead End Tactic, we needed to reboot the party again. I didn't want to create yet another starting area, and Felltower isn't a great place for newbies anymore, after endless bottom feeding by high point guys cleaned out anything that wasn't a rat, an ooze, or a gargoyle from the upper levels. So Vic offered to run some games . . . and I suggested we port the characters from there back to Felltower.

We did that. It was a good experience - I'd never co-GMed anything like that before.

I played most of the sessions, missing only one because I didn't want to stay up all night in Japan to game from there.

Felltower Adjacent - Session 1
Felltower Adjacent - Session 2
Felltower Adjacent - Session 3
Felltower Adjacent - Session 5 - Scaring & Murdering Hobgoblins
Felltower Adjacent Session 6 - Traps & Temples of Orcus

There were 6 sessions and I played 5 of them, as you can see above. All in all, then, there were 18 sessions of Felltower-connected games run in 2023, and I played only 17 of them despite it being the campaign I initiated. Heh. Goes with my "our game" idea - Felltower is "mine" and I didn't even play all the sessions.*


Another year with no AD&D. I expect this coming one will be the same, although I'm going to try otherwise. I expect the ship has sailed and no one wants to play AD&D anymore. I'm the only one who mentions it.

Other Games & Gaming

I was able to play some other games this year:

Board Games:

Fire in the Lake - simply beautiful, and amazing to play. Every turn feels like a dilemma.
Panzer Blitz - fun, but I'd actually rather play early-war scenarios, like 41-42.

Video games:

GTA 3: Vice City
Borderlands 2 (not so much of it, this year, but I still fired it up a few times)
Pathfinder: Kingmaker (running both my evil monk, and a Lawful Good Paladin aimed at getting the "best" ending)
Planescape: Torment enhanced edition (beautiful, and such a good game)
Fantasy General (almost finished it)
War in the East (played a couple of short scenarios)

I bought, but haven't yet played, Grand Tactician: The American Civil War.


I started work on a big project with Doug Cole, but SJG ended up putting it on hold for a while. Oh well.

I wrote a few other little things but without Pyramid, they don't have a home, but I like them too much to not try to find a way to turn them into a profit.

Overall, not a bad year in gaming. I'd like to get to 20+ sessions in 2024.

* I still shake my head over the hostile reaction I got in the comments on that one.

Saturday, December 30, 2023

DF Session 189 - More Notes

So the PCs had a goal today - kill a stone bull and a chimera. They managed to blunder into some crushrooms and maul one, wound a few more, and then retreat and head home.

The PCs had a good point - fighting an open-field monster (stone bull) and a flying monster with ranged attacks (chimera) outdoors is probably not ideal. Sneaking up on them out of the dark is probably better. The cost, though, for doing so, was well demonstrated in the session.

The problem with going through the dungeon include:

- it takes time. Game time and in-game time. There is no "fast forward" through the dungeon like we do for overland.

- there is no guarantee that you won't get into additional fights.

- there are distractions.

- there are hazards.

All came up today.

It took 2 hours to get to the crushrooms in the real world (10 am to 12 noon), that long or a bit more in actual in-game time delving.

They got into an additional fight which almost certainly alerted their target monsters.

They got distracted by the scrying room, briefly, and by the dead ogres, briefly.

They got stuck in a half-bent portcullis, fell in pits, fell down stairs, and used up FP on repeated attempts to force doors.

It also took some time as they fought the crushrooms in an area I didn't have set up for a battle map, so I had to pause the game for a few minutes and hurriedly draw walls on a scan of the map zoomed in and uploaded. I did it fast - I've gotten good at it over time - but geez, I had the other one ready to go. Foolish me, when they said they'd just go right there from the outside and attack the monsters, I believed them. I didn't prepare for the alternative.

Ironically, the problem with fighting flying monsters outdoors is that you can't melee them effectively . . . yet they have a scout, and the spell Flight. They also have Walk on Air and missile spells, so the ground-bound monster is likely out of luck against anyone who doesn't choose to fight it directly. I feel like they outsmarted themselves - convinced themselves that sneaking up was so valuable that they spent the whole session on it. The crushrooms are still intact, too, which is likely an obstacle to future delves in either direction.

Perfect Illusion says it fools all senses except Touch. Just FYI, I rule that to mean hearing, vision, and even smell - but not touch and therefore not taste (since you can't taste without touch.) I don't take it to mean "all possible senses." In DF, there are many ways to sense and target - the normal senses, plus various forms of Detect, Vibration Sense, and magic come to mind.

Someone wondered why no one filled the pit at the entrance full of cement. Probably because it's 60 x 20 x 30 feet. 36,000 cubic feet. You'd need 1333.33 cubic yards of fill. Create Earth isn't permanent.

Someone also wanted to use Shape Earth to shape metal. No, sorry, it doesn't do that - earth and stone, but not metal. There is a GURPS Magic college with metal spells which I very specifically do not use in Felltower.

DF Session 189, Felltower 127 - Quick Delve

We made time for a quick delve today. We played for all of 4 hours . . . more like 3 after 60 minuties of chit-chat.

Date: December 30th, 2023

Weather: Sunny, mildly cold.

Duncan Tesadic, human wizard (305 points)
Hannari Ironhand, dwarf martial artist (297 points)
Persistance Montgomery, human knight (298 points)
Thor Halfskepna, human knight (304 points)
Urbaine Fabre, half-elf bard (301 points)
Vladimir Luchnick, dwarf martial artist (255 points)

Last session, the PCs had scryed out the cave mouth entrance to Felltower and saw two critters there - a stone bull and a chimera . . . and some loot. So they geared up for a quick alpha strike on the two monsters to seize some loot!

Naturally, this plan was too simple and derailed immediately.

They gathered rumors and piled up the consumables - scrolls of Stone to Flesh, potions of all sorts, spellstones - and headed to Felltower. They decided that the approach to the cave mouth entrance was too open - they'd risk an open-field fight with a stone bull and a flying chimera. They didn't want to risk that, especially because they saw no chance of sneaking up on them.

So instead they headed into the dungeon through the main gate. Bad luck struck right away. Thor fell into the pit trying to cross it, getting hurt (5 HP). He drank a Major Healing potion and rolled two 1s, healing 4 back. He and Urbaine managed to get stuck in the portcullis and it took time and FP to extricate them.

Winding through the dungoen was fine, but stuck doors slowed them down and then Thor fell down some slick stairs and had to crawl up them to avoid another fall.

Finally, though, they reached the scrying chamber, hoping to use it. However, their magically created servant was destroyed when it touched the activating button, without even openeing the door. So they gave up on that.

Then it was down to the cavern level, and in to the "rest area" - a natural cave that feels peaceful and safe, with edible mushrooms and pure water. They rested there and ate some mushrooms.

From there they went to a cube-shaped room, and Urbaine sensed magic . . . but they didn't know what kind. So they backed off and went another way.

They approached the cave mouth cavern, but first had to get through a large cave on the way. When they arrived, they found it had a handful of crushrooms!

They backed off and set up a fighting formation, and made noises to attract the mushrooms. It didn't work; they just wouldn't come after the PCs. So the PCs went to them and attacked, with Percy slashing one badly with his axe.

The crushroom began to shriek, letting out a piercing sound that was annoying but certainly also alerted the chimera and stone bull.

They began a fighting retreat, carving up crushrooms that advanced. They decided to just run for it. Thor blocked on crushroom's attack while cutting it up something fierce. But then in a slight miscalculation they ran, but left Thor's back to the crushrooms 4 hexes away from the closest. It did a Move and Attack and rolled a 6 and hit, barely. It clamped on to his leg for 10 HP of damage (0 injury) and 20 CP. Thor was stuck! He tried to break free but failed, and Percy slashed it with his axe. Urbaine created a Perfect Illusion of many Thors to distract the crushrooms, and then Duncan put up a solid stone wall with Create Earth. They hacked the single crushroom on their side of the wall until it dropped away from Thor.

They just headed home from there, since we all had afternoon plans in the real world and so did the PCs, presumably.


Well, I had fun. I never promised there weren't any monsters in the area, and this area is notorious for crushrooms . . . and there they were.

I find crushrooms fun because they're big bags of HP that do collossal damage and inflict scads of Control Points, but their defenses are appalling and their "to hit" marginal. So you're fine until they roll well and then you're not. Then it's a matter of beating them to death.

0 xp, 1 xp MVP was Hannari because his player did all of the in-town shopping prep for the fight that wasn't.

See you guys next year!

Friday, December 29, 2023

Links & Notes for 12/29/2023

Stuff for today, game for tomorrow!

- I thought this "old school gamer" vs. "young gamer" comparison - out of experience with both - was interesting.

The analysis of Conan, well, I have my own take on that movie that's . . . different. Not as good as this take, though.

- Doug is nostalgic. I should kill his guy tomorrow so he can be nostalgic for his paper man, too!

Just kidding. A true old school GM cares not for your paper man. A true old school GM doesn't kill them off, either, but just gives you enough chances to get them killed yourself.

- My graduate work was in linguistics, so you know I like this article on languages by Lich Van Winkle.

- Spears.


Why the Pilum?

- Gothridge Manor is back, kinda!

Thursday, December 28, 2023

GURPS Magic - Panic is weird

Panic is a truly weird spell. It's an area, but the effects last on the people who leave the area. Yet it also continues to affect the area, so anyone coming into the area is also forced to resist.

I struggle to find parallels. You can get lit on fire with the flames in a Create Fire-affected area, leave, and still be on fire. It doesn't go out. And you could be put to sleep with Mass Sleep and be carried out of the area and still be sleeping. But I still find the Panic effect really odd. It both causes an effect on the targets they carry with them - and which is clearly magical, and which would go away if they went into a NMZ - and keeps a lasting effect elsewhere.

One of our current PCs uses it a lot, and did so in Vic's side game, and I've kept the ruling from there. But my original ruling was it stayed on the targets, not the area. Essentially, like Mass Daze or Mass Sleep, it did its thing and then ended on the area . . . but not on those who failed to resist. I felt like that was a more consistent effect with the other spells in the game. Yeah, fire and being set on fire, yes, but the effect wouldn't keep trying to set you on fire . . . you wouldn't need magic or 1 minute to pass without maintainence to have it end. I don't know . . . sometimes I think I should have kept my ruling just to keep the spell more consistent with the rest of GURPS Magic.

Not for nothing, but I want to highlight this rule, which is still in play, even if fodder types generally don't avail themselves of it in my games. As noted, that applies to fear effects, too. So you can Panic some monster and it can just decide to suck up the penalties and fight, if that's better for it.

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Modifiers to In-Town Item Availability Rolls

We use some special rules for item availability, as detailed here.

Right now, most consumable magic items are 9 or less. How do you increase that roll?

- spend extra on upkeep* (every doubling is +1, so x2 = +1, x4 = +2, up to x32 for +5)

- Reputation bonuses

- Status (which you can't just buy, you need to do in-game stuff to gain access to it.)

- any special in-town bonuses in game (currently none in play).

* Upkeep doubling happens last - so if your upkeep is higher from disads, that cost doubles, too.


Why don't normal reaction bonuses apply? Because it's not a reaction roll, it's a flat set of odds applied that there are some of these items in town. The modifiers that do count reflect that if you have status, or are flinging money around, or are famous for specific deeds, it's likely people are coming to you to offer such things. Just because you're likeable - or unlikeable - doesn't change the odds, here.

Shouldn't Wealth matter? Possibly, but DF Wealth is more structured as connections to buyers, not sellers.

Can I angle for Status or Reputation? Yes, but the only way is to accomplish things in Felltower and then spend the points when they come up.

Does this number ever change? Yes. If delvers spend enough money in town, the number can change. Generally, the more directly money goes into the economy (upkeep, services) the more it impacts it.

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Merry Christmas folks

I'll be offline until 12/26.

Merry Christmas. Remember, Christmas is about presents. Presents are loot. Loot is xp. Therefore Christmas is about XP. I hope you all get some XP this Christmas!



Friday, December 22, 2023

Random Notes for 12/22/2023

Christmas is coming.

- I won a copy of Holmes & Clark from Tenkar's OSR Christmas. Neat!

- You can win the same on Day 5, too.

- We're hoping to play a session on 12/30.

_ Isle of Sedra has about 24 hous to go.

- And that's all for this week. Slow week for gaming!

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

EOE Orbis Shadow Elves & Ver'men

I thought this was neat:

EOE Orbis Return of the Forgotten

I don't use the Ver'men, but I do feature ratmen in my games. I do use some Shadow Elves. The Shadow Elf Killers from this line of figures are the ones I use for the six-fingered Felltower dwellers the PCs have called "Gith."

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Game Notes for session 188 (and looking to 189)

Not so many notes for last session, because there was so little fighting and so much checking for loot and scrying.

Still, here are a few.

- Bad map notes continue to nag the PCs. Vlad got zapped by a toxic direct-damage spell because they noted a trap on a door, not on the door opener. They spent some time discussing a $ notation on the map, trapped gold coins that aren't there, and similar notes. The $100 map set of Felltower is worth $100, tops.

- I continue to feel a niggling annoyance at "we did" when discussing what past delvers did, even if it was the same PCs. There is a break between groups; I think thinking "we did" and not "delvers in the past did" sometimes stops exploration and testing that new delvers and the new players might do.

- Our newest player, Kevin, is a lot less risk-averse than my original core group. That's helping drive the delves forward a bit.

- Overall, the session was a good example of what a delve could be - focused checking of an area, careful looting, and avoiding useless side detours.

Looking forward to next session, there is a clear goal: go whack the stone bull and chimera, and then loot them. It could be a short session if that goes well. It's a work day for me, since it won't be a Sunday, so a short and violent delve would be useful.

Eventually the PCs will need to go deeper - the upper levels have encounters, but not they aren't packed to the limits with treasure-hoarding monsters, so it's still just a way to get used to the dungeon. The deeper levels and gates are where the real action will be.

Monday, December 18, 2023

Marx Navarone Playset Memories

Christmas is coming, so thoughts turn to presents and toys.

I got this Marx Navarone Playset when I was a kid. I eventually passed the mountain fortress on to a relative's kid, who made it a friendly happy place to visit. That was not how I played with it.

What I remember the most about the set was that mine came missing the mounts for the guns. I had the turret locations, and the guns, but not the piece that connected them and allowed them to mount and swivel. I don't recall anyone ever suggesting that we write to Marx and ask for them, or buy them from a parts sheet, or anything of the sort. They weren't there, and that was that.

Meanwhile these days something like that would be take care of in a flash. I'd post on social media that mine came missing a part, tag Marx, and get a replacement piece on the way ASAP.

It's too bad, because my enduring memory of the toyset was how fun it was, and how the cannons had to just sit there next to the mounting spot. I quickly lost them and just put soldiers with MGs there to defend against the attacking soldiers. I used it as a G.I. Joe base, too.

Too bad it didn't come with the gun mounts though.

Sunday, December 17, 2023

DF Session 188, Felltower 126 - Werewolf Loot & Crystal Gazing

Date: December 17th, 2023

Weather: Morning cloudy, cool, evening rainy, cool.


Chop, human cleric (308 points)
Duncan Tesadic, human wizard (305 points)
Hannari Ironhand, dwarf martial artist (297 points)
Persistance Montgomery, human knight (298 points)
Thor Halfskepna, human knight (304 points)
Urbaine Fabre, half-elf bard (301 points)
Vladimir Luchnick, dwarf martial artist (255 points)

We started off in town, with the PCs gathering rumors and buying assorted stuff. Silvered gear was a-plenty this time around, just in case. They heard rumors of a dungeon under a lost city, more of the mind-warping Aruda, and some others.

The group climbed up the mountain and into Felltower, Vlad scouting ahead and finding evidence of 6-7 giant rats in the castle ground above. They went in the main entrance and to the left, through the bent bars (Percy took a few minutes after getting stuck.) The door beyond was easy enough to open, clearly having been battered hard as it no longer sits flush in its frame.

Beyond it they cross a large room, and smelled burned meat. They decided to investigate, since they smelled the same last time. Thor crowbarred the door open and beyond it, in the dark, waited three ogres. Vlad immediately snapped off an arrow at one, who dodged. "HEY!" it yelled, and combat was on. The waiting ogres flung spears at the PCs, and hit Thor and Vlad. Thor's armor bounced the spear; Vlad took 3 HP injury to his left foot. Percy parried the one that hit him.

The ogres engaged the PCs with their greataxes. They didn't last too long. Urbaine stunned two of them with Rapier Wit despite their Magic Resistance, Percy smashed all three down with skull hits, one with an assist from Hannari's axes and kamas and Vlad's bow, one with an assist from a brutal neck shot from Thor, and the last with help from a 6d Stone Missile from Duncan. The Ogres did roll a critical dodge to make Percy waste a whole second off-balance, and despite low Dodge scores they dodged very often. But it just prolonged the fight a few seconds.

The ogres had their axes and spears, but also a pot full of over 5000 cp (~$500), a copper torc, some arrows, and a longsword. They checked if the sword was magical but it was not - it was fine, though.

They stashed most of the loot after a long discussion about carrying vs. not carrying, and then headed to the second level.

On the way, they stopped at a metal door and Vlad began to explain all about the headless statues he'd read about being in there. (I actually just said, "Why aren't you just showing them?" - a rare GM push to end some of this meta-silliness of tour guiding by guys who haven't been here.) In they went, and they checked the headless statues and did Seeker to try and find the heads. Duncan got a vision of one of them on a pile of treasure with a floating orb-shaped monster above it before the vision faded.

Next they moved down to where they fought the werewolves, through the dark temple - and through a door along the way that fell flat under a 3 roll by Percy. Once pas there, they headed downstairs. There wasn't a trace of the fight, just the faint smell of old rot. Not even bloodstains remained.

Checking where their map showed rooms they found were the werewolves lived - two rooms, each with 4 bedrolls. One had a Cashamashite fringed carpet and four plush chairs, the other a cut-down table and four pillows. Between them they found water, 60 dwarven rations (Vlad pounded down three as fast as possible), some gems, a few paut, a Minor Healing potion, a crystal vial of flaky black stuff (they thought poison, it turned out to be pepper when they checked in town), and some gold and copper coins.

Next they found a secret door their map indicated was a normal door. The map pointed out a trigger button, so Vlad pushed it . . . and felt a tearing, wrenching pain and suffered 24 toxic damage. He was still down 2 HP from his foot wound earlier, so was at -1xHP exactly and had to make a death check. He survived, and wasn't stunned, either. He dropped to a seat and waited. Chop cast Major Healing and rolled a 4 and healed the whole wound, for free.

The secret door was to a crystal ball room. No one had Crystal Gazing, but Urbaine went ahead and grabbed the ball and concentrated on seeing a spot nearby on their map. It worked! He quickly tried to spot one of the statue heads - no. And then the green zombie room, which failed. At that point he realized he was down 3 FP and let go. Duncan took over, and scryed like mad. He tried a lot of spots - Sterick's Tomb, town, the treasure hoard he saw . . . to no avail. But he was able to scan the dark temple above, which they'd traversed on their way down. Finally he looked at the cave entrance, aka the dragon cave . . . and saw a stone bull and a chimera (identified later) . . . and some treasure

They spent the rest of the session checking everything else on this level except the cave area and the green gemstone zombie room. There wasn't anything of value.

That all done, they headed back, retracing their steps and taking everything, from chairs to rations to greataxes. They sold the lot in town.


- Someone wanted to talk to the ogres - maybe even Vlad, actually - but shooting instantly didn't allow for other options.

- Luckily for the PCs, there were two orichalcum keys in the dungeon. This one wasn't originally here, but has made its way around the dungeon for a while and ended up with the werewolves a while back.

- They sold pretty much everything, netting about $1200 each.
- 4 xp each for loot, MVP was Chop for healing.

Fun game, and a good delve where they largely stayed on their main plan with only two side trips. We'll see if that continues in the future.

Friday, December 15, 2023

Links & Thoughts for 12/15/2023

Quite a busy week for me, so I didn't have a chance to post anything of value for a few days.

- Next Felltower delve is Sunday, 12/17. Probably the last delve for the year, unless people suddenly find time on 12/30 or something. I will try to get a small group delve going with whoever can make it before the year ends.

I won't lie, I do like having a consistent group of regulars. I am concerned that we may end up with an unstated "only play when almost everyone can make it" instead of "as often as we can, with whoever can make it." I'll keep pushing for the latter, although my schedule has been a problem this year as well.

- I'm slogging through the final battles in Fantasy General. They're winabble, but man, the terrain is so bloody awful and it's hard to make use of support troops. So many of my battles come down to just heavy infantry and sky hunters doing the vast majority of the heavy lifting in the fights. That bleeds out my vets as losses are made up with new recruits that bring down unit values. It's tough but I suppose it should be.

- Nice cover shot from the FASA Doctor Who Daleks supplement.

- I like this aligment system. You could probably couple this with a "Law" and "Chaos" battle, too - use these as motivations for actions, and make Law and Chaos true supernatural competing systems that people will join - or not - depending on their motivations.

Monday, December 11, 2023

I blame the GTA trailer

So, I was nearly done - two fights or so - from the end of Fantasy General, and making some steady progress on another gaming project.

And then the GTA6 trailer was released.

So I hooked my original XBOX up and resumed playing the game I'd purchased the XBOX to play in the first place . . . GTA3: Vice City!

That killed off the little free time I had for finishing the other game and doing some gaming stuff. Hah.

Until I get tired of drowning or getting shot, I'll be spending a bit of free time being Tommy Vercetti, voiced by Ray Liotta, rest in peace.

Sunday, December 10, 2023

A Felltower shot clock?

In discussion of my post yesterday, Doug showed us these plug-ins for our VTT-based Felltower game:

Literal shot clocks, here - timers for your turn before it skips you.

I think we've all agreed that this wouldn't be fun, especially if the clock didn't allow for extension or pausing as you deal with interface issues and adding modifiers to the roll modifier bucket.

Maybe even then it wouldn't be too fun.

I actually think my players generally make pretty quick decisions, but the mechanics of the game slow things a bit. And yes, all too often (as in >0 times) people change their mind after the roll is calculated. I'd prefer people just commit and take the roll that comes.

I don't want to force everyone to just move along . . . I just it better when "**** it, I take the shot" beats out "Let me choose the maximally best option for this turn based on group consensus and math."

Saturday, December 9, 2023

Never tell me the odds! Calculation Rule.

One thing that bugs me about games is this sequence:

- player proposes action
- player calculates the roll for the action
- player rejects option or changes it, often with help or suggestions from Statler and Waldorf*
- player find the mathematically best option and selects that OR starts over with a new action because "My guy wouldn't do that."
- roll occurs.

That's not very Han Solo, is it?

My preferred way to play is this:

- player proposes action, which may have included some between-turns calculation
- everyone else STFU and sits there
- player calculates the roll
- player rolls, regardless of the results

To be honest, this is how I play. I'd really like it if I could make this a rule. You could turn the caps off of Deceptive Attack and similiar things and let anything work, so you could potentially knock your skill down to below 10 or even below 3 (and thus no possible success) by choosing poorly.

I have tried to implement this but my players essentially resist through inertia and eventually revert to the top-listed approach.

Personally, I find it a bit less fun than the second option.

If only I could enforce this rule, I think game would be a bit more fun in the long run . . .


Friday, December 8, 2023

Links for 12/8/2023

Just a few things I read in the past week.

- Doug's got a setting Kickstarter for OSE.

- Doug also has a sale going.

- And that's about it. Crazy busy week folks!

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Notes on the Magic Items in Felltower

I noted in the comments on my magic items post that the PCs need to delve deeply, boldly, but cautiously to find magic items.

I'd like to expand on that.

The reason why this is the case is simple:

The upper levels have been largely scoured for magic items. Not everything has been found . . . but for the most part, the major magic items have been found.

If the PCs want the stuff that hasn't been found . . . it's deeper, or beyond gates.

Agar's Wand? It's out there.

Atregex's items? Go deeper.

Frenzy? It's not hidden in some nook on level 1, I'll say that for sure.

Grimslaughter? Same.

The PCs have missed items, behind the Unopenable Doors, in the Lost City, in the Cold Fens, and in Felltower. But mostly, they're deeper than people are willing to go. If they want better stuff, especally epic, unique stuff . . . it's going to take some deeper delves.

I have restocked the upper levels, so there are things to do up there, but it's not going to inclue too many unique, powerful magic items. Those are down deeper. With the nastier, more formidable monsters.

Have fun . . . the only way your paper man is getting more powerful magic items in GURPS in by risking their paper lives.

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Admin: Disappearing Comments

Just an admin FYI - if your comments disappear or don't show for a while, Blogger is being stupid again.

For whatever reason, numbers of comments are being flagged as spam - even very old comments, even my comments - and won't show up. I don't get a notice but I can go into the spam folder and one by one approve them. Some I have approved before and had re-marked as spam.

No idea why it's being stupid, but here we are. Sorry about that - the downsides of using hosting I don't have to pay for.

Monday, December 4, 2023

When Orcus isn't enough, add friends?

This post over on Old School FRP Tumblr caught my eye:

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

They're actually the four horsemen of Orcus.

Just eyeballing them vs. AD&D 1st edition's Orcus . . . I'm pretty sure they're a very serious threat to him. He's got 85% magic resistance and excellent combat abilities . . . but a 23rd level magic-user and everyone with weapons that can hurt him, even the summoned minotaurs . . .

Good thing they're Chaotic Evil, like him, so cooperation isn't likely to go very far.

It's interesting when you beef up a powerful unique monster with a coterie of allies who are also seriously powerful. I think in a way it diminishes the main monster, though. Instead of Orcus being a boss fight you can just have, there is this other layer of guys you have to get through first. So now it's a bit of an extended encounter. It can be another excuse to push off a fight like that later and later in a campaign. Put it off long enough, and you won't ever get to the big demon. And if it goes from "very tough encounter" to "campaign culimation" than they can't have 85 HP and go down in a 10 round melee. You need them to have hundreds of HP, piles of allies, more powers than can be handled . . . and the PCs need to escalate to match.

I've been trying to front load the scary stuff and even then it's tough to get people to engage. So while I like the idea here, I worry that it's just another way for the PCs and the GM to back off from using the cool unique monster that is Orcus.

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Where is the magic treasure in Felltower?

Following up on my post about treasure in Felltower . . . let's talk about magic treasures in Felltower.

Note that in my previous post I didn't really talk about magic vs. mundane treasure.

That's because my treasure generating system - displayed in DF21 - is a total value of a hoard. It's not the mundane value, just the value.

What does that mean for magic loot?

Short version, magic loot is more likely to turn up in big hoards than in small ones. Look at the previous post - the bigger sources of loot are also likely to be the bigger sources of magical loot.

Longer version?

It's complicated.

Big hoards often have magical treasure.

Intelligent monsters will use magical treasure actively.

Abandoned loot might include magical treasure . . . but it's generally consumables and the odd minor item.

Wandering monsters actually have a higher chance of magic loot than non-magic loot. In that there have been a few special wandering monsters - the original Sword Spirit, Valmar, carried a significant magical sword, for example, and Durak has some magical items he uses. There might be others. But these are also especially lethal encounters and aren't the norm.

With those caveats, what I said last time on treasure still stands.

I think I've said this before, but:

All of the magic items in DFT3: Artifacts of Felltower? They're in, or accessible from, Felltower. Every single one.

DFRPG Magic Items? The unique items are all in, or accessible from, Felltower. All of the new consumables, too.

Other magic items books, like DF6 or Doug's excellent books? Some of the items are in Felltower.

More I cannot yet say. Hopefully, deeper delving will unearth more of these items.

Saturday, December 2, 2023

More random links!

I totally forgot these yesterday!

- Stocking monsters with In Places Deep.

My Stocking Procedure

- Great random village ideas for a peripatetic party.

What's up with this village

- Discussion of the front-loaded benefits of being demihuman in AD&D. This is where point-buy is really sweet. You don't get anything you didn't pay for.

Friday, December 1, 2023

Friday Roundup for 12/1/2023

Random links to end the week.

- I missed a GURPS post yesterday for Thursday; I was just solidly busy until late and forgot. I generally don't like to miss posts, but it'll have to wait. It was conceived of but not written so it's not as simple as hitting "post." Next week.

- I pulled up my copy of Polyhedron #12 thanks to this post on Grognardia. I was intrigued about the "how to describe maps to mappers" article by Frank Mentzar, author of D&D and one of my favorite articles to talk about. I was . . . underwhelmed.

Pretty much, he describes how to walk through a map, using some shared vocabulary, to very exactly describe the room for mapping. So detailed, in fact, that my first thought was, why not just show them your map? It's really, really detailed and very exacting. If you're not going to be hitting the basic description so they can visualize it, just show them the map.

Oh well.

- Logic. Liches must be able to taste ice cream, otherwise, what's the point?

- Known Lands of Labrynth Lord hexmap.

- Maybe one more game in 20023. Feels like it was a very thin year for gaming.
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